Tag Archive | victims

Goals

goals

It has been close to 30 years since I was first struck by the man who would become my husband. After numerous brutal beatings, three children, non-stop threats of murder if I dare leave, in addition to my own prayers for my life to end so I could be free of the abuse…somehow, I survived.

The depth of my fear, fueled by my hate, gave me a pinpointed focus to raise my children and upon the last turning 18… get the hell out! Well, that time is upon me.

I’ve been counting down the days for way longer than I can remember.  Once they became a realistic number, I thought to myself… this is about to get real.  FAST!  Then before I knew it, the days went from 365 to less than half of that number, to within the same calender year and now… mere weeks.  Now, mental preparation.

There is still so much to get done before I go.  Loose ends to tie up.  People I want to explain my inevitable absence to.  And then there is my family.  I allowed my sister and mother to enter into my secret life and read my blog.  When they had a full understanding of my life thus far they seemed genuinely distressed over what I had been through.  My parents had only known about one episode early on but I did a good enough job hiding the life I endured that they had no idea it continued, most especially not for 25+ years.

Since absorbing that I most definitely do intend to go through with my exit plan, my mother and sister seem (to me) to be more concerned about what they need to do to protect themselves than they are about anything I will be going though.  The words, “how can we help” have yet to be spoken.  As these last days are closing in, these words, or lack thereof, have shaken me.  Although I do have friends that have offered their help, I can’t help but feel very much alone.  I’ve been taken back to a mental state where I need to fend for myself, and fear has kicked in.  Worst of all, every specific I had planned for this exit, I now feel unsure about.  I’m second guessing, feeling anxious and deciding whether or not I need to make changes.

On another note, I work from home.  I guess that being helpful or hurtful is up for debate but the point is, I work.  And I do so for many hours a day.  Yet, like many, many others, I live from check to check.  I have been able to put some money to the side for this event.  However, I did not start doing so until the end date was too close for comfort realizing I was broke.  So yeah, my resolution…save something…anything!  I am very much aware that is not nearly enough.  This has added panic on to every other emotion I’m feeling.

How the hell, where the hell, what the hell…am I going to do?  I do not like borrowing.  I’ve had to in the past and it’s just so uneasy for me.  I know I’m not the only one that feels that way.  Unrelated to financial issues, when asking for help – on any level – I’ve been let down more often than not.  So even being here right now, asking, begging, is surreal.  This is so uncomfortable and I apologize for even attempting to have the audacity to think anyone….everyone… doesn’t have a million other things more important to donate money to than me.

I am not even close to a special case.  There are so many of us.  Abuse victims.  And although I haven’t felt like a “victim” for a long time – due to my abuser’s very painful rheumatoid arthritis (lucky me) – Now, I am just a victim of my own poor financial planning.  I don’t even know where to start in asking people to donate, or what an appropriate amount is to ask for.  All I can think of is that if I can afford to pay rent for at least six months, then maybe I can be less stressed about the initial “hiding” period.  My son will be with me and I am not going to be ready for either one of us to be out and about, at least not for the first month or so.  I need to make sure we are completely safe.

This is going to be the hardest thing I’ve ever pulled off.  If there is just one aspect of it that I don’t have to worry over, I would be beyond appreciative.  Once I am fully free, paying it forward will be in using my voice and being as loud as possible for those of us that are still in hiding.  It has been 30 years since I was abused by someone who claimed to love me, and it is clear that this epidemic is far from over.  It’s not even close to ending with me; there are so many others out there.  Every anonymous account needs a voice.  A new fight I look forward to getting into head on.

For those of you who find it in your heart to donate anything to me… I thank you in advance and will be forever grateful.  If you are unable to donate, please share this on your social media.  XOXO

Click here to read my full story.

Why So Many Domestic Violence Survivors Don’t Get Help — Even When They Ask For It

This is the sad reality as to what is really happening in the U.S. when Domestic Violence victims finally gather the strength and courage to leave their abusers and seek help.  Without the proper funding from Congress, it seems those requesting help will remain victims of a system that does not acknowledge Domestic Violence to be a high priority.

Thousands of victims are being turned down on a daily basis due to lack of space and resources.

“In an ideal world, the victims would be able to stay in their own homes and live without fear, but unfortunately that is not possible,” Southworth said. “The most dangerous time for victims of domestic violence is when they are leaving the abusive partner or soon after. More homicides occur during that window than during any other time.”

Emergency shelter and housing are critical for a survivors’ safety, followed by proper legal representation.

“We know that victims need attorneys, and if they don’t have them they end up in dire straits when they go to court,” Southworth said.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE:  Why So Many Domestic Violence Survivors Don’t Get Help — Even When They Ask For It.

Domestic Violence victim regrets registering to vote after address posted on web

Something to Think About

On this Election Day, while preparing to go flex my suffrage muscles, a right that was finally institutionalized after years of protest by women who refused to take no for an answer, I came across this article. It reminded me that although the 19th Amendment grants all American women the right to vote, there are so many other rights we are not guaranteed. The right to privacy being one.

With my brain working overtime in how to stay off the grid once I leave, I’m grateful that I came across this article.  It goes to show you can never be 100% sure your information is not floating around out there, most especially in this digital era.

For Domestic Violence survivors who are already living a peaceful and serene life, and for those to follow in your footsteps, being hyper-vigilant about your safety is never off the table.

FOX31 Denver

[ooyala code=”hocnVocTqLXEqf45O87pDGQiWWmRJe38″ player_id=”47658b6fe4a043a48f5296392ce1db7f”]

DENVER — Theresa VanDerhoof has spent the past 14 years avoiding her violent ex-husband.

“He`s thrown me down the stairs, he`s punched me so hard that it`s broken ribs,” said VanDerhoof, adding, “He’d put notes on my car.  He would follow me, he`d figure out where I was.”

Even now, Vanderhoof sleeps with mace under her pillow and every few months she Googles herself, to make sure her address and phone number don’t appear online.

Her stomach sank three weeks ago when she discovered all her personal information on the website “ColoradoVoters.Info.”

“I`ve never felt that violated in all my life.  My information is out there now, my ex-husband does one search of my name, he`s going to find me,” said VandDerhoof.

The Denver area woman never guessed that registering to vote for the first time in more than a decade would make her feel…

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31 Facts in 31 Days – Day 30

Domestic Violence Information by State

Domestic violence victims need all the support they can get while going through such a rough time. That’s why each state has so many resources available for helping victims of domestic violence get back on their feet. There are many nongovernmental organizations, government agencies, and family organizations that victims can turn to. Below, you’ll find a list of these programs organized by state. You’ll also find links regarding each state’s domestic violence laws and victim resources.

National

Alabama

Alaska

Arizona

Arkansas

California

Colorado

Connecticut

Delaware

District of Columbia

Florida

Georgia

Hawaii

Idaho

Illinois

Indiana

Iowa

Kansas

Kentucky

Louisiana

Maine

Maryland

Massachusetts

Michigan

Minnesota

Mississippi

Missouri

Montana

Nebraska

Nevada

New Hampshire

New Jersey

New Mexico

New York

North Carolina

North Dakota

Ohio

Oklahoma

Oregon

Pennsylvania

Rhode Island

South Carolina

South Dakota

Tennessee

Texas

Utah

Vermont

Virginia

Washington

West Virginia

Wisconsin

Wyoming

If you’re a victim of domestic violence or know someone who is, visit Findlaw’s Get Help with Domestic Violence page. If you want to file a protective order in your state, visit our page on State Forms.

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Fact Source:  FindLaw

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To read from the beginning… #MyStory starts here.

31 Facts in 31 Days – Day 19

As we enter the last two weeks of October, the desire to change up the topic or take a break from posting is looming.  The realization that living through and within a Domestic Violence situation, as well as coming forward and writing about it, and then continuing down the path of advocacy is mentally exhausting, and at times takes a toll.

There are days that I don’t want to think about it or talk about it anymore.  I just want it to go away and cease to exist.  In my memory and in the present every day life of anyone else.  Those thoughts always bring me back here to post something else to bring awareness to this disease that knows no boundaries and has no cure.  Some people realize they have it and do everything in their power to rid themselves of it, some will not survive it and others will go years without ever knowing they are inflicted.  It’s for those people that I shake off my exhaustion and address DVAM – Day 19.

Instead of coming up with another statistical fact, I wanted to come at this topic from a different aspect and see if there were any cultures that actually promote Domestic Violence.  What I stumbled upon was something just as interesting:

Cultural Considerations in Recognizing and Responding to Domestic Violence

As in all areas of life, our cultural identities are present in domestic violence situations – situations in which we may be the abused, the abuser, or the colleagues who care to come to our aid.

Culture is the collection of learned beliefs, traditions, principles, and guides for behavior that are commonly shared among members of a particular group. We are all products of the cultures in which we live. And each of us is influenced by many “cultures” – ethnic, religious, geographic, socioeconomic, political, and more.

Sometimes we are marginalized because of our cultural connections. Sometimes we learn how to “get along” in what some people refer to as the dominant culture while still maintaining our own cultural values. Often we are stereotyped. We may be seen only as a member of a particular group, not as a unique individual.

While culture can strengthen a family, cultural influences may also create obstacles when working with parties in a domestic violence situation. Understanding a person’s culture and belief systems can be helpful in successfully working with that person.

There are cultural considerations in recognizing and responding to situations of domestic violence. The key is to be sensitive to people’s beliefs and actions. A cultural specialist can assist in responding sensitively.

Persons of Color in General

Often people of color hesitate to call law enforcement or to become involved with the justice system because of their community’s or their personal experiences with the system. Native Americans, African Americans, and Asian Americans often feel they betray their “people” when they notify law enforcement and other system professionals.

Latino Communities

• Counseling services may be seen as something that only “crazy” people receive. This may cause a Latino to seek assistance from a priest or doctor before turning to counseling services.

• Eye contact with an authority figure is considered a sign of disrespect rather than respect.

• Language may be a frustration and a barrier. Employing the services of an advocate who speaks Spanish can make a Latino feel more comfortable.

• For Latinos new to the United States, isolation from resources in a new country can present huge problems and may force them to remain silent about their problems.

• For Latinos residing illegally in the United States, deportation is a great and real concern and can prevent them from seeking help from the legal system and law enforcement.

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Communities

Domestic violence exists in the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community at about the same rate as in the heterosexual community. It is often hard for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender victims to recognize that they are in a violent relationship because such things have been portrayed as only happening between the sexes, not within the same sex. Once they do realize that they are in such a relationship, it is hard for them to seek help because of the homophobic environment of many communities and the fear of being “outed” to family and friends. The fact of being homosexual can jeopardize child custody, immigration, and legal status.

The system lacks appropriate responses to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender domestic violence. Law enforcement officers often assume the violence is mutual and arrest both parties or assume that the stronger partner committed the violence and arrest that person. Homosexual individuals may receive prejudicial treatment from all segments of the system (law enforcement, judges, prosecutors, and victim advocates). Few shelters are available for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals.

Jewish Communities

Because Jewish women often encounter anti-Semitic stereotyping – often stamped as abrasive, emasculating, and overbearing or pampered, demanding, and self-centered – a Jewish woman may not evoke sympathy from the public or a court of law. She also may incur hostility within her community in accusing a Jewish man of physical abuse. Jews believe that exposing Jewish misconduct to the non-Jewish community is a shame that brings disgrace to all Jews in that each shoulders the burden of representing an entire people. An abused woman who reports abuse may even be considered a traitor, undermining efforts to combat the more pressing issue of anti-Semitism.

Orthodox Jewish women have additional barriers. Even though an Orthodox Jewish woman may seek a protective order, she may be unable to obtain a divorce under Jewish law unless the abuser dies or is willing to grant a divorce. Without a divorce under Jewish law, the woman still belongs to her Jewish husband. She has no standing in the Jewish community. Any children born of a second marriage are considered illegitimate and shunned by the Orthodox Jewish community. For women whose life revolves around family and children, leaving an abusive situation is an extremely difficult decision.

Asian Communities

Cultural and individual barriers for victims of domestic violence can include a victim’s lack of fluency in English, sense of fear or shame, and feelings of isolation. Institutional barriers include complex immigration policies and racism ingrained in many areas that traditionally offer protection to battered women.

Islamic Communities

Islam condemns all forms of violence against women. Qur’anic text states that “men are the protectors and maintainers of women because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient and guard in (the husband’s) absence what Allah would have them guard. As to those women on whose part you fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (next) do not share their beds, (and last) beat (tap) them (lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them means (of annoyance); for Allah is Most High, Great (above you all).” (4:34 as noted in “Wife Beating?” by Dr. Jamal Badawi,”).  “Any excess, cruelty, family violence, or abuse committed by a ‘Muslim’ can never be traced, honestly, to any revelatory text (Qur’an or hadith). Such excesses and violations are to be blamed on the person(s) himself, as it shows that they are paying lip service to Islamic teachings and injunctions and failing to follow the true Sunnah of the Prophet.” (For true Classic Quranic Arabic translation please see the comment section below.)

“It is clearly true that the husband is the head of the household and must be obeyed in all things that are not against the Will of Allah. Obedience to one’s husband is one of the identifying characteristics of a Muslim wife. It is that which sets Muslim wives apart from non-Muslim wives. It is in that obedience that the avoidance of spouse abuse may sometimes lie. The legal system in the United States has set up a set of circumstances where the husband is seen as the ‘perpetrator’ and the sole responsible party in cases of battering. It fails to look at the precipitating factors. And, while it is true that a man is responsible for his own behavior legally and Islamically, it is also true that a woman can come to know her husband in such a way as to understand how to ‘push his buttons’ and precipitate the abuse. The latest research verifies this new ‘understanding’ of spouse abuse.”

“Muslim women often feel compelled to stay in abusive relationships as it is believed that they are supposed to ‘obey their husbands.’ Women feel pressure to not bring shame to their family by revealing the abuse in their marriage and believe that it is their responsibility to maintain peace in the home. Abused women often feel abandoned by family, friends, and God. Rather than offering protection and help to battered women, imams and community leaders often advise women to return to violent homes and be ‘better wives’ by ‘trying harder to please their husband’ . . . implying that they are somehow responsible for the abuse, that if they really were ‘good’ they would not get abused. Nothing can be further from the truth.”

African American Communities

African Americans, including African American women suffer deadly violence from family members at rates decidedly higher than for other racial groups in the United States. However, it is observed that research concerning family violence among African Americans is inadequate.

Factors such as the breakdown of families, unemployment and underemployment, poor schools, inadequate vocational skills and training, bad housing, the influence and use of drugs, and the density of liquor stores in the inner city contribute to the problem of domestic violence. All of these ingredients may compound and coalesce into a strong undercurrent of frustration that can lead to domestic violence.

“Many Black women may find it harder to leave a battering relationship than White women. The reasons for this are unclear, but some possible explanations include the following: (1) African American women have fewer options in their search for a marital partner than do White women; (2) African American women on average, have a lower income level than that of most White women; (3) Black women are reluctant to call the police because they see the racial injustice in the criminal justice system; (4) community support systems including women’s shelters and other service programs may be less available to them and they may view the shelter system movement as something mainly to benefit White women. Unfortunately, many Black women resort to ‘homicide’ as an answer to the violence and battering they encounter”.

Immigrant Women

Some immigrants coming to the United States are more likely to be victims of continued domestic violence because of the threat of removal (deportation). The federal government’s Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) can help immigrant women who are victims of domestic violence. Children of an abused woman may also qualify. VAWA was created by Congress in 1994 and amended in 2000.

Under VAWA, eligible applicants may qualify for deferred action status in the United States and work authorization. In addition, an approved VAWA petition may allow a victim to receive certain federal public benefits. Ultimately, a VAWA benefit recipient may be able to apply for permanent resident status on her own.

Typically, a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who is an immediate relative must file a petition for permanent resident status for an immigrant. But VAWA allows an abused woman to file for legal status by herself.

To qualify for VAWA, a person must be able to document the following elements to the Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS):

  • the abuse was committed by a husband, and;
  • the husband is a U.S. citizen, or a legal permanent resident (LPR), and;
  • the marriage was a marriage of good faith, and;
  • the victim is an individual of good moral character.

A divorce or legal separation occurring after papers are filed for self-petition will not have any effect on whether or not the victim is granted benefits under VAWA.

Benefits may also be available to victims in the following circumstances:

  • the marriage was terminated within the past two years and the reason for the end of the marriage was connected to the domestic violence, or;
  • the abuser lost his immigration status within the last two years due to the domestic violence, or;
  • the U.S. citizen abuser husband died in the past two years, or;
  • the husband was married to someone else at the same time he was married to the victim.

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Fact Source:  Colorado Bar Association

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To read from the beginning… #MyStory starts here.

Mentally Exhausted

Since I started this blogging journey, I’ve come across quite a few blogs that discuss Domestic Violence as well as all different types of abuse whether it be physical, verbal, sexual, etc.  Some of them are written by abuse survivors.  Those of you who have lived through your ordeal and made it out.  Refusing to ever be in that type of situation again.  There are also blogs written by those of us who are still a victim of circumstance.  Still “living the life”.  Trying to find our voice and strength to get up, move on and move out.  Others are written by those who are our allies, the non-abused.  They will fight the good fight by our side condemning all and any type of abuse.  An objective standpoint if you will.  Each of you are equally wonderful.  Why?  It’s because you are talking about it.  This is a topic that is private for each person who has lived it and for those who are sharing their stories, I find you amazing.

Please excuse the expletives – sometimes they’re necessary.

What I have come to find that seems to affect me most is when I read that the abused are being categorized.  Especially from the non-abused.  I have come across articles that talk about how the world lays the burden on the victim asking, why didn’t she leave?  They talk about the different personality traits and flaws that we possess.  If I have been beat and stayed around and let it continue to happen then I have no self worth.  I am too frightened to use the voice I have to speak up in fear of the heavy hand that will strike me.  Or simply, this one is great, I must be so head over heels in love with my abuser that I think the way he treats me is out of the love he has for me.  Don’t forget the girls with daddy issues. Maybe your father wasn’t around or he neglected you and you are looking for a man to fill that void. There are more stories circulating out there…about us.  The abused.

The truth of the matter is…there ARE women out there that are weak minded.  Who have never had a father figure in their life and believe that this man who has given her the time of day finds her worthy.  She may believe that this is the way men treat women – especially if she has never had a man treat her any better. Some of us may be so in love with our man that we think if he says it’s our fault – it must be. If he promises that he will change and that was the last time then why not believe him? He loves us. What about those of us that feel we are such a piece of garbage that we deserve what we get. You must exist. They’ve written articles about you. You’re disgusting, meek and cower in a corner because your abuser is justified in all he says and does to you.

I guess the reason why these descriptive explanations in the insight as to why we stay whether it be a day, week, month or years after the first strike don’t really apply to me. It’s not what’s wrong with ME. It’s what’s wrong with HIM. He’s a fucking asshole. Point blank. He thinks everything he says is right. Mostly because he is a loser and has feelings of inferiority in the real world. So, at home…he needs to be superior. Guess what…he’s a loser. For one reason and one reason only. He hits girls. I can and HAVE argued almost every single day since we’ve been together. That shit doesn’t bother me. Curse me out call me names…I will say worse back to you. You want to yell like a psychotic lunatic…uh, pretty sure I can scream and yell too. And he HATES it. Because I refuse to bow.

Why I have stayed as long as I have. Straight up fear. It’s the most crippling emotion I have ever faced. Why does he scare me? Because I believe him. That may be considered me giving him power over me. Whatever. I don’t agree. It’s a belief backed by action. Some people are all talk and no action. My abuser is a knife man. He carries one everyday of his life. (In his youth) He has fought with them, and used them to connect with the other persons body. Has he murdered anyone? No. Just a punk that fights with a weapon. Which brings me back to the fear aspect.

When someone you know is a vicious animal and has been known to inflict pain on a person with a knife and they tell you that if you leave they will slice your face up until you are unable to recognize yourself…do you believe them? Hmmm. Let’s see. Should I leave because he threatened me that type of bodily harm? (Obviously, I should run.) If I leave…will he actually do as promised? How eager am I to find that out? If he threatens to kill me if I leave…I weigh it out. Should I leave? (Probably.) Then I wonder, do I want to die at 18 or at 30 or 40? Do I want my kids to live with the fact that their father murdered their mother? I don’t know. Maybe?

The point is. It was MY decision. I’m not saying it was the right one. And I’m not saying anyone else should do the same. Do I deserve the abuse because I stayed? You know what? I’m on the fence about that one. I mean of course I don’t deserve to be treated like garbage…no one does. But if you tell your child not to play with fire because they will get burned but they still play with fire and end up getting burned – 9 times out of 10 your first response would be…that’s what you get. In theory, it’s kind of the same deal. That does not mean that I don’t have bottled up rage that boils inside of me that can pour out like lava and engulf him with his own vengeance. I just chose not to go to jail.

Forgive me for going into a tangent about this crap. I guess it just bothers me that there are people that would think I’m less of a person than I am because I am still here. I have every intention on leaving. I laid out my plans many years ago. There is a short amount of time left for me to do. It’s what was right for me. Would I do it the same if I had to go through all of this again. Fuck no. If anyone says yes then – I don’t know – I honestly don’t know what to say to that. Just don’t come up with excuses about what is wrong with the women who put up with this bullshit. We don’t wake up one day and say…ooh, let’s see if I can find someone who will abuse me. However, the men are walking around in constant flux and treat most of who they come in contact with in the same demeanor. Let’s give them categories. The men that hit have mommy issues, never been hugged, feel inferior to women and must retaliate with physical power, and for good measure (pun intended) they must have a “size” issue. How’s that? Does that work?

My head hurts just trying to get all of this out. I hope it makes sense. I’m mentally exhausted. The end.